Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Consciousness according to Julian Jaynes

Below is my personal memo from

Julian Jaynes'
(1976/1990, Houghton Mifflin Company)



Denotative definition: what is introspectable, as it was for Descartes, Locke, and Hume. (p. 450)

Connotative definition: an analogy 'I' narratizing in a functional mind-space. (p. 450)

What consciousness is NOT: reactivity or perception.

What consciousness may NOT be involved in: hosts of perceptual phenomena; performance of skills; speaking, writing, listening or reading; learning;creative reasoning. (pp. 46-47, 447-449)


2.1 General Theory of Metaphor (See Note 1)

"The most fascinating property of language is its capacity to make metaphors." (p. 48)

"The lexicon of language, then, is a finite set of terms that by metaphor is able to stretch out over an infinite set of circumstances, even to creating new circumstances thereby. " (p. 52)

With language, when you want to express something that was inexpressible, you use a metaphier, a known word, to express the inexpressible.

The metaphier creates a metaphrand, a new entity that used to be the inexpressible. (METAPHIER -> METAPHRAND)

The metaphier has paraphiers, associations or attributes of the metaphier. (METAPHIER/PARAPHIERS)

The paraphiers create paraphrands, new associations or attributes the metaphrand obtains. (PARAPHIERS -> PARAPHRANDS)

The metaphier/paraphiers creates a new entitiy with new associations or attributes, the metaphrand/paraphrands. (METAPHIER/PARAPHIERS -> METAPHRAND/PARAPHRANDS)

2.2 Creation or invention of consciousness

The inexpressible: the mind

-> Metaphier: "I see [the new idea]!"

=> Metaphrand "The analog I sees [the new idea]."

-> Paraphier 1:

=> Paraphrand 1: The analog 'I' has the analog space.

-> Praphier 2:

=> Paraphrand 2: "Ideas are objects in the analog space."

=> Metaphrand/Praraphrand: The analog 'I' handling some objects in the analog space (or the mind-space). [Creation or invention of consciousness]

=>Consciousness is often assumed to behave just like I, the physical body, behave in the physical space.

=>If new ideas are objects in the mind-space, future actions or decisions can also be objects in the mind-space and the analog I can handle them in the mind-space.


"Subjective conscious mind is an analog of what is called the real world. It is built up with a vocabulary of lexical field whose terms are all metaphors or analogs of behavior in the physical world. Its reality is of the same order as mathematics. It allows us to shortcut behavioral processes and arrive at more adequate decisions. Like mathematics, it is an operator rather than a thing or repository. And it is intimately bound up with volition and decision. " (p. 55)

"[With consciousness], humans can ' look' into an imagined future with all its potential of terror, joy, hope, or ambition, just as if it were already real, and into a past moody with what might have been, or savoring what did, the past emerging through the metaphier of a space through whose long shadows we may move in a new and magical process called remembrance or reminiscence." (pp. 456-457)

"Along this new lifetime, putting together similar occurrences or excerpts of them -- inferences from what others tell us we are and from what we can tell ourselves on the basis of our own consciousness of what we have done -- we come to construct or invent, on a continuing basis, in ourselves and in others, a self. the advantage of an idea of your self is to help you know what you can or can't do or should or should not do." (pp. 457-458)


4.1 Spatialization

Consciousness works within mind-space. Consciousness even spatialize time. (p. 60)

4.2 Excerption

"We are never conscious of things in their true nature, only of the excerpts we make of them." (p. 61)

4.3 The Analog 'I'

"[The analog 'I']can 'move about' vicarially in our 'imagination', 'doing' things that we are not actually doing." (pp. 62-63)

4.4 Metaphor 'Me'

The analog 'I' sees a metaphor me. (See Supplement)

4.4.1 Analog 'I', Metaphor 'Me' and 'Self'

Is the 'Self' the complex of the Analog 'I' and the Metaphor 'Me'? I'm not sure.

4.4.2 The ontology of the Analog 'I'

The analog 'I' is the limit of the consciousness? (I'm not sure). See 5.6 of Tractatus by Wittgenstein (See Note)

4.4.3 The ontology of the Metaphor 'Me'

The metaphor 'me' is an object in consciousness, probably the most important object.

4.5 Narratization

"In consciousness, we are always seeing our vicarial selves as the main figures in the stories of our lives." (p. 63)

"New situations are selectively perceived as part of this ongoing story, perceptions that do not fit into it being unnoticed or at least unremembered. More important, situations are chosen which are congruent to this ongoing story, until the picture I have of myself in my life story determines how I am to act and choose in novel situations as they arise. " (p. 64)

"The assigning of causes to our behavior or saying why we did a particular thing is all a part of narratization. Such causes as reasons may be true or false, neutral or ideal. " (p. 64)

"But it is not just our own analog 'I' that we are narratizing ; it is everything else in consciousness. A stray fact is narratized to fit with some other stray fact. A child cries in the street and we narratize the event into a mental picture of a lost child and a parent searching for it. A cat is up in a tree and we narratize the event into a picture of a dog chasing it there. Or the facts of mind as we can understand them into a theory of consciousness. " (p. 64)

4.6 Conciliation (or compatibilization, consillience)

"In conciliation, we are making excerpts or narratizations compatible with each other, just as in external perception the new stimulus and the internal conception are made to agree. " (p. 65)

5 Consciousness according to Julian Jaynes, as I understood it

The mind-space that the analog 'I' observes, in which the metaphor 'me' and other important mental objects behave with some the mental objects according to a story that emerges. (I'm not sure.)


Note to 2.1 General Theory of Metaphor: Read (again) the following books.

Metaphors We Live By

Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things

Philosophy in the Flesh : The Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Thought
Available in Questia)

Note to 4.4.2 The ontology of the Analog 'I'

Propositions in 5.6 in Tractatus by Wittgenstein are as follows:

The limits of my language mean the limits of my world.

Logic fills the world: the limits of the world are also its limits.
We cannot therefore say in logic: This and this there is in the world, that there is not.

For that would apparently presuppose that we exclude certain possibilities, and this cannot be the case since otherwise logic must get outside the limits of the world: that is, if it could consider these limits from the other side also.

What we cannot think, that we cannot think: we cannot therefore say what we cannot think.

This remark provides a key to the question, to what extent solipsism is a truth.
In fact what solipsism means, is quite correct, only it cannot be said, but it shows itself.

That the world is my world, shows itself in the fact that the limits of the language (the language which I understand) mean the limits of my world.

I am the world. (The microcosm.)
The thinking, presenting subject; there is no such thing.
If I wrote a book The world as I found it, I should also have therein to report on my body and say which members obey my will and which do not, etc. This then would be a method of isolating the subject or rather of showing that in an important sense there is no subject: that is to say, of it alone in this book mention could not be made.

The subject does not belong to the world but it is a limit of the world
Where in the world is a metaphysical subject to be noted?
You say that this case is altogether like that of the eye and the field of sight. But you do not really see the eye.

And from nothing in the field of sight can it be concluded that it is seen from an eye.

5.6331 From the form of the visual field is surely not like this. [Figure omitted. To see the figure, see the version that contains German, and Ogden and Pears & McGuinness translations]

This is connected with the fact that no part of our experience is also a priori.
Everything we see could also be otherwise.

Everything we describe at all could also be otherwise.

There is no order of things a priori.

Here we see that solipsism strictly carried out coincides with pure realism. The I in solipsism shrinks to an extensionless point and there remains the reality co-ordinated with it.
There is therefore really a sense in which the philosophy we can talk of a non-psychological I.
The I occurs in philosophy through the fact that the "world is my world".

The philosophical I is not the man, not the human body or the human soul of which psychology treats, but the metaphysical subject, the limit -- not a part of the world.

The above translation was obtained from Hypertext of the Ogden bilingual edition

The version that contains German, and Ogden and Pears & McGuinness translations Side-by-Side-by-Side


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